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THE SURVIVOR’S QUIDE TO FAMILY HAPPINESS: A Novel ~Maddie Dawson

Monday, October 24th, 2016

Sometimes life just leaves you all alone. Feels just awful but what is a gal to do? If you are Nina Popkin you just start searching out new goals and pick up your spirits and charge forward.  The reader is pulled into this story of rejection and the glorious optimism and worry of Nina until one is immersed in the possibility of a happy ending.

THE SURVIVOR’S QUIDE TO FAMILY HAPPINESS is actually a story about 3 women and the choices they are making that will guide their future.  Nina’s plight is the grounding to the whole adventure, as in her 30s her mother dies of cancer, her 6 months marriage is now a divorce, and her best friend and boss is newly married and very happy.  Since Nina was adopted she begins her future by deciding to track down her birth mother, and help a recently divorced father of 2 teens find a condo and move out of the family home.  These two events bring out Nina’s sharp wit and also her sadness, which she is working through with a sense of maturity and “klutz”.

Soon in the process, Nina discovers she has a sister; arranges to meet her and she starts dating the fellow with the two teens.  New sister resists tracking down her birth mother or forming a relationship with Nina.  The two girls do look alike and Lindy has beautiful red hair and not the curly, frizzy hair that Nina supports; they discover they lived close to each other growing up and even attended the same schools.  This encounter stirs up feelings for Lindy and makes her responses to her mom tense and confusing.  Lindy is trying to live the “perfect” life, as has no room for these new feelings.

Indigo the teen daughter adds a new voice to the situation as she develops a “Must do” list of rather dangerous adventures and uses magic markers to color her hair.  Lots of hair referrals in this story!   And yet, her “gutsy” demanding demeanor gets the two sisters relating to each other and figuring out some solutions to who they are and what actions they need to accomplish to find resolution.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story telling and wandering within the feelings exposed.  I liked the outcome and results and how the girls handled themselves within their discoveries.  Everyone found a good solution and was left better off as the story unfolded.  THE SURVIVOR’S QUIDE TO FAMILY HAPPINESS was a good read.  Thank you to TLC Book Tours  and Lake Union Press for sharing this book with me.

“Maddie Dawson grew up in the South, born into a family of outrageous storytellers. Her various careers as a substitute English teacher, department-store clerk, medical-records typist, waitress, cat sitter, wedding-invitation-company receptionist, nanny, day-care worker, electrocardiogram technician, and Taco Bell taco maker were made bearable by thinking up stories as she worked. Today she lives in Guilford, Connecticut, with her husband. She’s the bestselling author of four previous novels: The Opposite of Maybe, The Stuff That Never Happened, Kissing Games of the World, and A Piece of Normal.” (TLC Tours)

Maddie Dawson Website
Maddie Dawson Facebook
Maddie Dawson Twitter

Related:
A House for Happy Mothers
Two From Isaac’s House
The Light Between Oceans

PhDEATH: The Puzzler Murders ~James P. Carse

Monday, October 17th, 2016

This Book will not be published until NOVEMBER 1,2016

Every once in awhile a book comes along that just takes the reader on a wonderful ride; turning around so many things at one time thought to be true but are now varied.  James Carse has indeed accomplished this mind changing with a hauntingly interesting tale, which plays with the imagination and the expectation with delight.

The setting is a major university in a major city on a square.  We are allowed to join a select group of the faculty to be part of an intellectual combat team attempting to outwit the Puzzler and a deadly agenda.  The NY Times puzzle master is trying to help, along with the city’s top detective, and U.S. Military Intelligence.  The 10 puzzles are difficult and the committee had to call in a fifth grader to assist them in the solving of at least one of the ten.

As the whole faculty is sometimes made fun of for the academic snobbery, many are revealed to be working too many angles and not actually involved in what they were hired to do.  Nothing is dull in this story from the shared philosophy discussions to the humorous personality traits exposed.  We are treated to the complete academic year and even a bit of summer session.  The reader must take a good look at essential issues, because they are urgent and fun and one must turn on the thinking skills and get right into gear.

Meryl Zegarek Public Relations, Inc. www.mzpr.com sent me an uncorrected Galley for review and in the promotion material with the book was this paragraph:

“The mystery is complex and the book has a great deal of wit and humor.  Will Shortz, NEW YORK TIMES Puzzle Master makes a decisive appearance in the book along with Bernie Sanders, Lady Gaga and other celebrities.  Members of the faculty and all of the victims, except one, are entirely fictional.  Carse says they bear no direct relation to persons living or dead.  They are composites so carefully drawn that some readers may feel they are real and perhaps even recognizable.  The one exception concerns a highly dramatic crime that led to prosecution and imprisonment.  That person, once a colleague of Carse’s, is long dead.  The author leaves it up to curious readers or NYU alumni to figure this one out.”

That paragraph just sent me right to open the book and start reading.  I had to keep putting the book down, when I wanted to just keep reading and reading.  Good twists and hooks found here.

From the cover:

“Carse, Emeritus Professor himself at a premier university – in a major city on a square- shows no mercy in his creation of the seemingly omniscient Puzzler, who through a sequence of atrocities beginning and ending with the academic year, turns up one hidden pocket of moral rot after another.”

“The engaging and insightful stories explain why Carse has gained an almost cult-like following at NYU and beyond.”  (-Publishers Weekly)

James P. Carse Website
James P. Carse Wikipedia

Related:
Autumn In Oxford
Gone To Soldiers
When Women Were Birds

NATCHEZ BURNING: A Novel ~Greg Iles

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

The first book in a trilogy that will just knock you over it is so compelling and non-stop.  The action and history is condensed into an 800-page turner of a book, which fills in history and the violence of the 1960s that continues into 2005.

NATCHES BURNING was sent to me by TLC Book Tours and I have to admit I was not too thrilled as I was already reviewing 7 books for them this month and this gem was 800 pages and part of a 3 way deal.  Whew!   I am not hugely a fan of thrillers either although this one had some historic merit, which found me interested.  Then I read what Stephen King wrote on the cover:

“ Natchez Burning is extraordinarily entertaining and fiendishly suspenseful.  I defy you to start it and find a way to put it down; as long as it is, I wished it were longer.  There’s a bonus: You’ll finish knowing a great deal about the Deep South’s painful struggle toward racial equality, and the bloody road between Then and Now.  Only a southern man could have written this book, and thank God Greg Iles was there to do the job.  This is an amazing work of popular fiction.”

There was so much history in this story from the killing of the voter registration workers in 1964 to present day distress and unequal treatment.  The torture and murder of anyone of color, and others, who got in the way or seemed funky to the KKK and the wealthy scheming whites were just what one thought was going on in the back of the mind.  And yet, the FBI and police could not seem to find the guilty parties or justice.

Iles has lived in Natchez, Mississippi all of his life and the book is full of characters that his fans have known before.  Dr. Tom Cage is a physician who has served all of his community with his medical care, which involved the keeping of many secrets. Dr. Cage’s son Penn is a lawyer, writer and now Mayor of Natchez and is working to solve the charges against his father.  Henry Sexton is a reporter who has faithfully kept the research and storytelling alive about the murders, fires and rape which throughout his history has plagued the community and threatened every member of the society with prejudice and hate.  Dr. Cage is loosely based on Iles own father, and the newspaperman is based on a fellow who has written the stories in his own paper in town and is about to write his own book on what he knows.

The book is extremely hard to put down and I read the whole in 3 days of hard pressure.  I can actually say that I am looking forward to THE BONE TREE, which I will review next month; book two in the trilogy I must wait until March for book three.

Even thought it contains a great deal of history, I know one of my book groups will not read it because of the violence and another because they have a 400 page limit.  It is a thriller and it contains a great deal of violence; it reveals a great deal of the context that I always thought was true but has been bred into the culture and will take a great teacher to heal and a determined citizen to break through.  Greg Iles breaks through and opens a door to re-enculturation.  NATCHEZ BURNING – What a Read!

“Greg Iles spent most of his youth in Natchez, Mississippi.  His first novel, SPANDAU PHOENIX, was the first of thirteen NEW YORK TIMES bestsellers, and his new trilogy continues the story of Penn Cage, protagonist of THE QUIET GAME, TURNING ANGEL, AND #1 NY TIMES bestseller THE DEVIL’S PUNCHBOWL. Iles novels have been made into films and published in more than thirty-five countries. He lives in Natchez with his wife and has two children.”

www.GregIles.com

Related:
The Contractors
The Fury
The Shock Doctrine

THE BURIED BOOK: A Novel ~D.M. Pulley

Monday, August 22nd, 2016

D.M. Pulley wrote THE DEAD KEY that I reviewed several years ago.  It was a fascinating study of corruption that was part of an old bank scheduled to be demolished.  It was difficult to get into and yet there I was hooked into reading every page and the story was excellent.

“The author is a professional engineer from Shaker Heights, Ohio, who specializes in rehabbing historic structures as well as conducting forensic investigations of building failures.  Pulley’s structural survey of an abandoned building in Cleveland formed the basis for her debut novel.” (Cover)

THE BURIED BOOK starts off a huge leap as nervous Althea Leary drops her son, Jasper, off at her brother’s farm about 60 miles from Detroit.  He is left with a suitcase holding a change of clothes and a children’s Bible.  It is August of 1952 and Althea is in a huge hurry to escape something.   Everyone is confused but falls into place with the farm routines and helping Jasper fit into the schedule.  The cabin is small with almost no privacy.

Jasper is finding the farm chores rigorous and yet he is enjoying the work and the learning.  He is very confused by his Mother’s departure and when she does not return and her car is found abandoned or hidden the stress pushes him into hunting for her.  At a burned down farmhouse, he finds a journal written by Althea when she was a young girl.  The journal details how she was blackmailed into doing the bidding of bootlegger/wealthy farmer and this awfulness continued throughout her life.

The book is quite the page-turner, as I was kept invested in the story and what would happen to Jasper and his family.  We are also learning about what was happening to the Native American’s who were on a reservation in the area of the farm.  The prejudices and the fear of the people in the area are very much exploited by the drug runners and mafia people dealing with prohibition.  Poverty is a theme that underlies the entire story.

Pulley writes like an engineer; precise, mathematical, descriptive and dense.  The story moves forward until the riddle is solved and we find Jasper’s Mother and bring her home.

Fire was an important component of the story and I am still sorting out its meaning and reference.  It was a potent threat.

This good read was sent to my Kindle by TLC Book Tours for review.

Related:
The Dead Key
In Doubt
Shady Cross